CALGARY, Alberta (FNS) -- Union leaders are threatening "substantial fines" for hundreds of disgruntled strikers who have left their picket lines and gone back to work at Canada Safeway.
Doug O'Halloran, president of Local 401, says the amount of the fines will be decided once the dispute is settled and nearly 11,000 have returned to work. An amount "equal to what line-crossers are paid by Safeway during remainder of the strike" has been suggested.
Safeway officials estimate that at least 1,500 full- and part-time workers had crossed the picket line as of last Wednesday, and they expect the numbers to swell. United Food and Commercial Workers Union spokesmen estimate that 600 have broken lines.
Safeway said last week that it was unable to determine the financial impact of the strike but that financial results for the parent company would be adversely affected.
Toby Oswald, Canada Safeway vice president of public relations, says the company has vowed not to finalize any back-to-work agreements "that don't include amnesty for employees." She said that under Alberta law, workers have the right to cross picket lines during a dispute.
"We have a commitment to employees who take that action to protect them when they do come back to work," she said.
"That's not acceptable to UFCW," declared O'Halloran. "[Safeway] will be waiting for quite a while if they think I'll sign a back-to-work order that calls for amnesty for scabs."
UFCW wants wage increases to offset rollbacks its members accepted in 1993 to help Safeway, in Alberta, return to profitability. The union also wants more hours for part-timers, and more job security for all members. The strike began March 26.